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Maralinga Mystery-bookcover

By: Alan Parkinson

Maralinga Mystery

Pages: 176 Ratings:
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Maralinga. A uniquely Australian tourist destination. A remote site in the State of South Australia where thousands of Service personnel, mainly British and Australian, witnessed the deliberate contamination of pristine Australian bush with plutonium.

Maralinga, where Britain exploded 22 atomic bombs in the 1950s and 60s. 15 of those bombs were exploded in the infamous Vixen B trials in a manner which spread plutonium over hundreds of square kilometres.

This is the inside story of the clean-up of a tiny fraction of the contaminated area. It is the story of how workmen in sealed vehicles scraped up thousands of tonnes of contaminated soil and transferred it to a huge burial trench. It is also the story of how thousands of tonnes of debris, contaminated with plutonium, were to have been treated in a manner considered by both British and Australian specialists to be ideal, was turned into a botched job by a group with no nuclear expertise in order to save money.

It is the story of how the outcome was declared world’s best practice by the newly formed Australian nuclear regulator, and was praised by the Australian government, but condemned by the federal opposition party.

Maralinga has been returned to the Aboriginal owners, and tourists can now take their four-wheel drive vehicles to the site. They can walk on the cleaned area and learn something of the history. This book tells the rest.

Alan Parkinson is a mechanical and nuclear engineer, now retired. On graduating from Manchester University in 1957, he joined the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Risley near Warrington. He has many years of experience in the nuclear industry in the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA. In 1965, he emigrated to Australia to work on a nuclear power station which, he found later, was to be part of a much larger project to produce a nuclear bomb. The project did not proceed. Meantime, Britain tested nuclear weapons at three locations in Australia, notably at Maralinga in South Australia. In 1989, Alan developed some thirty options for cleaning up the abandoned site at Maralinga. He was a member of a committee advising the government on the clean-up, and was their representative overseeing the project. He was removed from both appointments after questioning the management of the later phase of the project, but maintained contact with the site as an adviser to the traditional owners.

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